Friday, February 19, 2016

Harper Lee

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

Monday, December 21, 2015

Maestro Lenny

 "The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed ... because people are changed by art - enriched, ennobled, encouraged - they then act in a way that may affect the course of the way they vote, they behave, the way they think." - Leonard ‪‎Bernstein‬ (John Gruen interview in Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1972

Friday, June 19, 2015

Get to Know [title of show] in Chicago

Get to know the cast & staff behind the Brown Paper Box Co.'s Chicago storefront premiere of Hunter Bell & Jeff Bowen's Tony-nominated [title of show].

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Panek's 2015 Tony Award Picks, or "My Tonys!"

Best Play
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Author: Simon Stephens
Disgraced, Author: Ayad Akhtar
Hand to God, Author: Robert Askins
Wolf Hall Parts One and Two, Co-Authors: Hilary Mantel and Mike Poulton

Best Musical
An American in Paris
Fun Home
Something Rotten
The Visit

Best Revival of a Play
The Elephant Man
This Is Our Youth
You Can't Take it With You

Best Revival of a Musical
The King and I
On the Town
On the 20th Century

Best Book of a Musical

An American in Paris, Craig Lucas
Fun Home, Lisa Kron
Something Rotten! Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell
The Visit, Terrence McNally

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Fun Home, Music: Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics: Lisa Kron
The Last Ship, Music & Lyrics: Sting
Something Rotten! Music & Lyrics: Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
The Visit, Music: John Kander, Lyrics: Fred Ebb

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall Parts One and Two
Bill Nighy, Skylight
Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Brian d'Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Ken Watanabe, The King and I
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Beth Malone, Fun Home
Kelli O'Hara, The King and I
Chita Rivera, The Visit

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Matthew Beard, Skylight
K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
Richard McCabe, The Audience
Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man
Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall Parts One and Two
Micah Stock, It's Only a Play

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Annaleigh Ashford, You Can't Take It with You
Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man
Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall Parts One and Two
Sarah Stiles, Hand to God
Julie White, Airline Highway

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century
Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!
Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris
Max von Essen, An American in Paris

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Victoria Clark, Gigi
Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
Emily Skeggs, Fun Home

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Bob Crowley, Skylight
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One and Two
David Rockwell, You Can't Take It with You

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris
David Rockwell, On the Twentieth Century
Michael Yeargan, The King and I
David Zinn, Fun Home

Best Costume Design of a Play
Bob Crowley, The Audience
Jane Greenwood, You Can't Take It with You
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One and Two
David Zinn, Airline Highway

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Something Rotten!
Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
William Ivey Long, On the Twentieth Century
Catherine Zuber, The King and I

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Paule Constable and David Plater, Wolf Hall Parts One and Two
Natasha Katz, Skylight
Japhy Weideman, Airline Highway

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Donald Holder, The King and I
Natasha Katz, An American in Paris
Ben Stanton, Fun Home
Japhy Weideman, The Visit

Best Direction of a Play
Stephen Daldry, Skylight
Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Scott Ellis, You Can't Take It with You
Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God

Best Direction of a Musical
Sam Gold, Fun Home
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
John Rando, On the Town
Bartlett Sher, The King and I
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Best Choreography
Joshua Bergasse, On the Town
Christopher Gattelli, The King and I
Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Best Orchestrations
Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris
John Clancy, Fun Home
Larry Hochman, Something Rotten!
Rob Mathes, The Last Ship

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chicago's [title of show] Cast

The Brown Paper Box Co. is excited to announce the cast for the Chicago storefront premiere of [title of show], with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and book by Hunter Bell. The show will run from July 17 through August 16, 2015 at Rivendell Theatre in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood (5779 N. Ridge Ave.). Press performances are Sunday, July 19 at 2 P.M. and Monday, July 20 at 7:30 P.M. Ticketing information and more will be posted at

Struggling writers Jeff and Hunter are working on an original musical with a unique topic: their experience writing an original musical! With friends Susan, Heidi, and accompanist Larry, they embark on a meta-journey of self-expression, documenting all the roadblocks and creative breakthroughs they encounter along the way. Nominated for the 2009 Best Book Tony Award, [title of show] is an irreverent, hilarious, and inspiring celebration of musical theatre and the joy of collaboration.

The cast includes Neala Barron [A Funny Thing Happened…, Porchlight Music Theatre; The Full Monty, Kokandy Productions; Titanic, Griffin Theatre Company] as Susan, Matt Frye [Henry V, Chicago Shakespeare Theater; The Full Monty, Kokandy Productions; Ripper, Chicago College of Performing Arts] as Hunter, Yando Lopez [Sondheim on Sondheim, Porchlight Music Theatre; In the Heights, Paramount Theatre; One Hit Wonders, Black Ensemble Theater] as Jeff, and Anna Schutz* [A New BrainAloha, Say the Pretty Girls, and Reefer Madness! The Brown Paper Box Co.] as Heidi. Chad Michael Innis and Stephanie Rohr* round out the cast as the male and female swings. Justin Harner* [Spike HeelsA New Brain, and Aloha Say the Pretty Girls, The Brown Paper Box Co.] will play Larry, the accompanist.

The production team includes T.J. Anderson* [musical director], Justin Harner* [assistant musical director], Sara Heymann [set/properties designer], Michael Montgomery [stage manager], M. William Panek* [director], Matt Sergot* [box office manager], Charlie Sheets* [graphic designer], Daniel Spagnuolo* [casting associate], Eric Vigo [lighting designer], Courtney Watters [costume coordinator], and Damian Wille [production manager].

*Denotes Brown Paper Box Co. company member.

Monday, March 30, 2015

#titleofshowChi's Kickstarter on ‪#‎MatchItMonday‬

Today is the best day to donate to [title of show] in Chicago! Why? Because Phil Martin has GENEROUSLY decided to match all donations today!

Donate now (or increase your existing donation!) and double your impact! ‪#‎MatchItMonday‬

Thursday, March 12, 2015

An Open Letter to Theatre Audiences

Dear audiences,

It's been many years since I attended weekly Mass. It's been a long time since a 'place of worship' held any personal sense of truth, belief, or higher power.

That being said, I treat my time in a theatre as the, for a lack of better word, 'holiest' part of my day. Sure, I wear work boots, jeans, and hoodies, but the time spent sitting & experiencing a show delivers me to that higher place. The respect & adoration for the people on that stage, below that stage, & behind that stage radiates out no matter what I'm wearing.

So if you're talking. During a performance. Or an overture. Or an entr'acte. I will ask you to stop. If you deem it necessary to argue back or retort, I will ask you again. There is in no possible way you're in the right, so I will not back down or be kind about it.

If you were sitting around me when I couldn't take any more chatting during FIRST WIVES CLUB last night, I apologize for nothing. We pay money to respectfully appreciate everyone's hard work on & around that stage. We work hard so everyone sitting in our audiences gets their time & money's worth.

It's our holy place, so for the love of everything sacred - shut it.

Stepping off a soapbox after preaching to the choir,

Monday, March 09, 2015

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: Guilty as Hell

In this courtroom sketch, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, center, is depicted between defense attorneys Miriam Conrad, left, and Judy Clarke, right, during his federal death penalty trial, Thursday, March 5, 2015, in Boston. Tsarnaev is charged with conspiring with his brother to place two bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line in April 2013, killing three and injuring 260 people. (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins)